Friday, May 23, 2014 14 comments

INDIAN MOMS INCORPORATED



Come May and the Indian Mom gets busy on social media. Her activities invite so much attention that every other issue gets sidelined. I am sort of feeling sorry for the new PM elect because  the ISC results came out on the 17th of May and every mom with a kid who wrote this exam was filling up her wall space with  her child’s mark sheet!! Come 21st and the ICSE results took over. If I were a member of the newly elected government or even a member of the party, I would be inclined to protest!!! Just imagine, some teens taking away the spot light from us!!! The CBSE results are pending and I just hope that they do not coincide with the swearing in ceremony. That would be disastrous!!

You say I am exaggerating?  If you think so then you are not acquainted with my breed. We Indian moms are probably the most competitive among the female homo sapiens species in this world!! We live and die to hear about how our children have done vis a vis others  in exams and in case they have come out in any way better we use every means available to broadcast it to the world. 
 
Is it any wonder that we have taken so well to social media like face book?
I am just imagining what life was for us before face book. We had to be content with sharing the news with our neighbors , colleagues , relatives and other  mothers. Some of us who had mobility issues could not ensure that the news traveled beyond our neighborhood. But of course, there was always the problem with news that traveled like that. One could add or subtract marks ( depending on how well liked we were in that circle where the change was happening) and before you knew it your daughter who had a  80% aggregate could end up getting 60%. Of course some lucky ones could have enjoyed a reverse situation! 

While examination marks dominate our psyche, we sometimes extend it slightly beyond that and talk about cups and shields won at sports events,  job offers, promotions, pay hikes etc.  We just like to ensure that everyone gets to know how brilliant our kids are! After all, isn’t it a mother’s duty to present her child in the best possible light? And of course we like to rub that in where our rivals are concerned. Some of us have developed it into a fine art!! We do not spare the off springs even when they are married. We ensure that everyone we know knows that they have been on a foreign holiday, that our son in law bought our daughter solitaires ( the quantitative fetish that some of us have makes us even mention the carat and cost of those stones!!! ) for their anniversary, that they have met some famous people etc !! With social media like face book it has  become the easiest thing to do. We “tag” all our friends in those photographs. After all isn’t all this a marker of our own success as a parent? 

Such behavior often brings up an old grouse that I hold against my own mother. When my Xth exam results were out I remember her telling some neighbors ( and only those who asked ) – “ I think she has passed” !!! What did she mean “think” ?  I attempted to create a scene comparing her to my aunt from Bombay who used to fill the entire space in inland letters and post cards talking about her daughters’ achievements  including  in them even their performance in sports conducted by their building residents association and the number of love letters that they used to receive from boys in the neighborhood!!!  But Amma in this case probably was not like other Indian moms. She gave me a disgusted look and told me  “ Chee!! How can I boast about my own daughter like that”. So who was to talk about my achievements, I wondered? I was inclined to suggest that may be we should hire someone ( professional ad agency types)  to do that.  But she had her own solution “Others should speak about your achievements. We know how brilliant you both are. And anyway why should we tell anyone. What purpose will that serve?” 

I wonder  what my mother would have to say if she sees all those posts on the facebook walls.  I think she might shudder with disgust. “Bad manners” Dad would murmur . Both of them , poor things are probably like extra terrestrials in our Indian mom’s world today. 

And what am I going to do as the Indian mom of today? For starters, I am going to coax Mark Zuckerberg to develop some App ( for use atleast in India) where we can post our child’s mark sheets so that the numbers appear clearly. Or may be we can post links to the board’s site which on clicking would reveal all their glories at one go!! I wish there could be one site called “Glories galore” where we can keep a chronological account of our child’s achievements –complete with numbers, photographs  of arangetrams, sports achievements, foreign holidays, solitaires etc that we can regularly update and have it linked to our face book accounts. Mr. Zuckerberg better start working on “Glories Galore” before someone else filches  that idea.  I can assure him that GG would have more visitors than his FB !!!!

No wonder Shashi Kapoor said in "Deewar" - " Mere paas maa hai" !! After all which ad agency can beat her at touting our achievements?
Thursday, May 1, 2014 14 comments

THE IRON MAN AND HIS GENES



I borrowed this title from The Red Handed blog who had written on her face book page about how her dad ironed her skirts!!  And the strange thing is that  my  father  is also  an “Iron man”!!! 

As far back as I can remember, it was Appa who used to iron  our school uniforms  and polish our shoes. He used to fold the entire set of 2 regular  uniforms and PT uniforms neatly into piles and put them into our shelves. It was from him that I inherited the skill of ironing. He taught me how to fold the pleats on a skirt when it is ironed so that when it is folded and put back into the cupboard it would not crumple.  And thanks to his skills, I was always the smartly dressed student who never had to be pulled up after assembly time by the House Captains

He has a sense of order that borders almost on obsession. He folds the newspaper into an exact rectangle even as he reads it .. and needless to say, it always looks like that  when it is placed in the centre table at home. So is it surprising that he should love ironing?

His ironing abilities  (among his other quirks)  have obviously expressed themselves strongly in his older daughter.  I cannot bear to have clothes heaped on clotheshorses or lying about!!! So when we are both together you can imagine what it is like!!! My daughter and husband complain that he “attacks”  their underwear , ironing it during his free time while he is here.  The first time I heard that, I wondered if I should try doing that too? But I desisted because I was worried that the husband might think it is rather kinky behavior on my part. The  daughter ofcourse is very amused. She speaks about how her grand father had once offered to wash her Kashmiri kurta in mineral water during one of her visits  to his place. This seemingly strange offer is on account of my instruction to her not to have it washed at their place because the water is very hard. My father the  “ iron man” was probably itching to run his iron over the lovely royal blue embroidery  and even he, the obsessive “istri wala” drew the line at ironing a dirty kurta!!

So what is so  special about ironing that it becomes an obsession?  While for my father it might be his sense of order that makes him rush for the iron, in my case, the ironing helps me ease my worries away. I always feel relaxed after an ironing session. 

.But I do not deny that this sense of “perceived order” has also crept into my genes. I remember Appa’s saying “ A place for an item, an item in its place”. While I try to  strive towards that goal in my life, I realize what people think of as order might also be the disorder that surrounds them. I am horrified sometimes when I see the books strewn across my daughter’s bed. She does not like me tidying up. I sincerely hope it is a teenage trait because I remember throwing a fit during my teens if my father ever sought to attack my books cupboard during one of his cleaning sprees. He used to refer to it  sarcastically as my “treasure island” and telling me to tidy it up because “there might a snake or scorpion inside”. But obviously I didn’t because tidying it up would mean finding a place to hide the Mills and Boon novels with their steamy looking covers and those post cards pictures of a now obscure  actor called Kumar Gaurav who was my then heart throb !!! 

But my Iron man is also a very brave man because he regularly attempts to clean up Amma’s hand bag muttering under his breath that it is a “Pandora’s box”!!! He manages to complete the task sometimes braving the after math of the exercise. He  has offered to tidy up my hand bag but I have drawn the line there. I don’t think he has the courage to make that offer to his younger daughter!!! 
Appa’s sense of order moves beyond clothes, shelves, hand bags and even into wallets. He regularly smoothens the currency notes in my wallet telling me that I keep them folded like a vegetable vendor!!! I have seen him try to iron a particularly crushed five rupee note once. 

His tidying sprees generally involve throwing away what he thinks is  “useless stuff”. I remember him  throwing away spring onions from the kitchen counter one morning annoying my sister who had planned to cook something exotic with them. He complained to me quietly saying “ Deepa is shouting at me for throwing away some peels she forgot to put into the dustbin last night” 

My father’s youngest brother had once complained to me  that he feels very uncomfortable in  his brother’s house because “ Your father keeps it like a museum. Nothing can be moved from its place”!!  I had to keep myself from commenting because what my uncle was complaining about was something that to me and my father seemed rather outrageous. In his family, he and his son move the furniture around to have it just under the fan to catch the breeze. They think they can do it when they visit any one else’s place too but the point is , they forget to move it back.. !!! So you can imagine what it must be doing to the blood pressure of a man whose motto in life is “ A place for an item and an item in its place”!!

Among some of the quirks that the Iron man has not passed on to me is the need to secure plastic packets with rubber bands!! His place in Hyderabad has a  huge jar filled with multi colored rubber bands. He is always at a loss when he visits me because I do not entertain rubber bands!!!  He has tried stapling but I think it was a rather challenging exercise to staple plastic covers!!  I have had some bad experiences with pins unexpectedly poking my fingers in the kitchen and had innumerable arguments with him. 

My mother stays out of these father –daughter fights . My sister has developed a new line these days      “ You are behaving just like Appa” . And when I try to complain to her about him,  her advice to me       is “ Remember you have to deal with him the way you would deal with yourself” Really? Doesn’t sound like a compliment to me….!

 
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